Around Cook County
Two St. Olaf graduates (both with ties to Cook County) who
became the first women to paddle 2,000 miles from Minneapolis to
Hudson Bay in 2011 are returning to speak about their three-month
paddle. They will be at Stone Harbor Wilderness Supply on Saturday,
February 23 at 4:30 p.m.
Ann Raiho and Natalie Warren will tell their story about following the
path Eric Sevareid chronicled in his book Canoeing with the Cree.
Since their trip ended Raiho has attended graduate school while Warren
spent a year speaking about their adventure and then started Wild
River Academy in Washington DC in 2012. Wild River Academy hosts three-
day river trips designed to connect high school girls with successful
women. It also seeks to inspire women to grow through wilderness
adventures. Early this year Warren moved the business to the Twin
Cities with her friend and business partner Nick Ryan.
Warren, from Miami, Florida, and Raiho, from Inver Grove Heights,
Minnesota met at Camp Menogyn in 2007, getting to know each other on a
50-day canoe trip into the Canadian wilderness.
The goal of their presentation is to encourage people to pursue their
passions, resulting in greater opportunities for themselves and their
Minnesota’s ice fishing shelter removal dates are approaching.
The DNR says dark houses, fish houses and portables must be off the ice of inland waters no later than midnight March 18 in the northern third of the state. Enforcement action will be taken if shelters are left after the deadlines.
For Minnesota-Canada border waters, the shelter removal deadline is March 31.
After removal dates, shelters may remain on the ice between midnight and one hour before sunrise only when occupied or attended.
It’s said the house always wins. But as a Thunder Bay man can confirm, there is an exception to every rule.
On Tuesday, February 12, during a visit to Grand Portage Lodge and Casino, a Thunder Bay resident won a staggering $330,336.65 (U.S. funds) jackpot from one of the casino’s popular new progressive slot machines.
According to casino spokesperson and Marketing Manager Frank Vecchio, the slot machine is a “wide-area progressive linked to a number of Native American casinos.”
The jackpot win is reported to be the second largest single payout in the casino’s 24-year history.
The lucky winner, a Portage Players Club member, is a regular player at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino who wishes to remain anonymous. He had traveled to Grand Portage to participate in “Fat Tuesday”—one of the casino’s most popular annual promotions.
Asked about his win, the man said, “I’m still in shock. I haven’t made any solid plans about what to do with the money. All I can say is that it’s going to make life a whole lot easier.”
Marketing Manager Vecchio said, “All the staff and owners of Grand Portage Lodge and Casino are thrilled that one of our loyal Portage Players Club members has hit it so lucky. It makes us happy at Grand Portage Lodge and Casino when our players win and we hope this big jackpot will carry through a winning streak for our players throughout 2013.”
For the last eight years, on the last Saturday of every month, the classic country band Portage has performed at the Cook County North Shore Care Center to the delight of care center residents, family members and friends and care center staff. This wonderful musical tradition has been recognized by Aging Services in Minnesota. Portage was presented with the Stars Among Us 2013 Volunteer of the Year Award at the annual Aging Services in Minnesota Institute at the Hyatt Regency Hotel in Minneapolis on February 6, 2013.
Portage was nominated for the award by Care Center Activities Director Kay Rosenthal, who explained that Portage has been performing for elders in Cook County and beyond for more than 10 years. “They have had a long standing gig at our Care Center the last Saturday of every month for the past eight years,” wrote Rosenthal, adding, “And they know how to fill the dance floor—our dining room—every time!”
Members of Portage are Jim Spry, Butch Deschampe, Arvid Dahl, Tom Hoy and Joe Peterson. Sue Maijala was a former drummer in previous years.
Portage will be back at the Care Center on February 23—the last Saturday of the month—once again to share their talents. Rosenthal said a special celebration is planned at 6:30 p.m. that day to congratulate Portage for being the 2013 Volunteers of the Year. They truly are “Stars Among Us!”
After its second calendar year of being collected, the Cook County 1 percent recreation and infrastructure sales tax showed an increase of 9.2 percent over revenue from the year before. In 2012, the tax brought in $1,234,919.33.
The 1 percent tax is funding numerous projects throughout the county, including the Grand Marais Public Library addition, recreational enhancements at Birch Grove Community Center in Tofte, the installation of broadband fiber optic infrastructure to everyone on the electrical grid, improvements at Superior National at Lutsen Golf Course, research regarding the feasibility of a biomass district heating plant in Grand Marais, and a new community center facility attached to Cook County High School along with outdoor recreational amenities on county property nearby.
The three Cook County lodging tax districts brought in $916,917.52 in 2012, an increase of 4.9 percent over the year before based on the businesses that had completed their reports when results were tabulated.
The Lutsen-Tofte Tourism Association brought in $588,124.14, an increase of 3.1 percent over 2011. The Gunflint Trail Tourism Association brought in $110,058.06, an increase of 7.3 percent. The Grand Marais Area Tourism Association brought in $218,735.32, an increase of 9.1 percent.
Ely did not fare nearly as well. Its lodging tax revenue went from $260,540.75 in 2011 to $255,797.46 in 2012, a decrease of 1.8 percent.
The Poplar River Management Board (PRMB) continues to make progress on large-scale projects to reduce sediment from the lower segment of the Poplar River in Lutsen.
Ten contractors submitted bids for the next project, the Caribou Highlands Flowpath. According to PRMB President Tom Rider, the three lowest bidders were all very qualified companies. The contract went to Reuben Johnson & Sons of Superior, Wisconsin with a bid of $157,000.
The Caribou Highlands Flowpath project will involve the installation of erosion control measures along the strip of land between Caribou Highlands, which sits on a bluff, and the river. It will capture all the storm water originating on the Caribou Highlands property. The land directly adjacent to the river is owned by Lutsen Mountains and includes a ski trail and an access road.
“It’s a pretty important project due to the proximity of this resort to the river and the scale of land and storm water involved,” Rider said. The work will start this spring and is expected to be completed in June or July.
“We also have two other smaller conservation projects that will be carried out this summer – the Mystery Mountain Flowpath Project and the Lower Eagle Mountain Road Project,” said Rider. A request for bids will go out later this winter with construction to take place this summer.
At the February 4 bimonthly PRMB meeting, the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) reported on data trends regarding sediment levels in the Poplar River. Measurements gathered from 2009 to 2011 show a 35 percent reduction from previous levels. Rider said this reduction is expected to grow as completed projects mature on the landscape, such as the Ullr Tightline that was completed in 2012, and as additional projects are added, such as the ones to be completed this summer.